‘More than an academic thing’: Becoming a teacher in Ltyentye Apurte and beyond

LCJ 25 cover

Al Strangeways & Vivien Pettit

LCJ: Special Issue:

Growing Our Own: Indigenous Education on Country, 25, pp. 44-61

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Strangeways, A., & Pettit, V. (2019). ‘More than an academic thing’: Becoming a teacher in Ltyentye Apurte and beyond. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Growing Our Own: Indigenous Education on Country], 25, 44-61. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18793/lcj2019.25.05



Becoming a teacher involves much more than building an effective collection of professional knowledge and practice. Establishing a satisfying and meaningful teacher identity is the foundation of teacher development and has implications for teacher retention and for reclaiming the profession from its current domination by policy discourses. Much can be learned by teacher educators, education leaders and teachers themselves from narratives of identity development. Such stories offer an embodied picture of the complex inter-relationship between the different elements of a teacher’s identity and how a teacher’s experiences, relationships and socio-cultural context shape the meaning they make of their teacher-self. This paper draws on arts-based, narrative and dialogic methods to share Author 2’s story of his professional identity formation before, during and after his participation in the Growing Our Own (GOO) program at Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa).

The story emerges from data collected over six years of the eight-year working relationship between Author 2 and Author 1, a lecturer on the program. It casts light on the people, places and experiences that shaped his professional identity, on the challenges he encountered, and the impact becoming a teacher had on his identity as an Indigenous man and a member of his community. This story contests the notion of professional identity development as a straightforward journey towards a known destination and offers a rich embodiment of the complex nature of teacher identity as ecological, transactional and relative to time and place.


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